“If Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ have perished. If our hope for Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.” (1 Cor. 15:17–19, NJB).
“If the resurrection of Jesus cannot be believed except by assenting to the fantastic descriptions included in the Gospels, then Christianity is doomed. For that view of the resurrection is not believable, and if that is all there is, then Christianity, which depends upon the truth and authenticity of Jesus’ resurrection, also is not believable.” (Bishop John Shelby Spong).
The Romans crucified Jesus. It was a devastating, humiliating end to the hopes of his supporters. The Gospel authors could not have their hero disappear after such a wretched demise. The rank and file are not inclined to idolize a loser. The scriptwriters had to spruce up the story. Jesus had to rise from the dead, just like a god was expected to. The Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Dionysus, the Persian Mithras, and many others had all risen from the dead. Resurrection is a timeless theme; if a character is charismatic enough, people love to imagine that death has been defeated, even today. Consider Elvis Presley.
The resurrection of Christ proved the divinity of Jesus. It is the central tenet of the faith, the one most important belief upon which Christianity is based. Mark’s gospel, the first to be written, and the one that the others copied, should have made a big deal about this exceptional event. Yet the author only devotes the second half of the last chapter to it, as if it was tacked on like an afterthought. Mark has only twenty or so lines describing what many people presume was the premiere event in the history of the world.
Many scholars claim the character and style of the last twelve verses in Mark (the resurrection story) are different from the rest of the Gospel. They say at 16:9 there is an abrupt end to the narrative flow and the style loses its descriptive quality. Mary Magdalene is spoken of in 16:9 as if she had not been mentioned before. What is more, the whole resurrection story is absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts, the oldest Latin manuscript, the oldest Syriac manuscript, and from about one hundred early Armenian manuscripts, as well as the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written 897 CE and 913 CE). In many later texts that include verses 9–20, asterisks or obeli mark the verses as doubtful or spurious. Moreover, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Tertullian are completely unaware of the existence of a resurrection story in Mark. Eusebius and Jerome are, but they’re fourth century commentators, and they note that it is absent from their earlier Greek transcripts.
The significance of this is staggering. The original author of Mark created the first biblical biography of Jesus, but failed to mention that he rose from the dead!
The resurrection ending (16:9–20) was added to the end of Mark by an unknown author sometime after the latter part of the second century, a fact admitted by most New Testament scholars in the past century! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_16).
A footnote in the Jerusalem Bible states,
“The ‘long ending’ of Mark, vv.9–20, is included in the canonically accepted body of inspired scripture. This does not necessarily imply Markan authorship which, indeed, is open to question” (Jerusalem Bible).
The Catholic Encyclopedia states,
“Catholics are not bound to hold these verses (16:9–20) were written by Saint Mark.” The arrogant authors are assuming they can tell Catholics what they are allowed to believe. They then make the following ridiculous claim as one of several possible explanations for the lack of a resurrection ending: “If, then, Mark concluded with verse 8, it must have been because he died or was interrupted before he could write more.” Imagine Mark sitting at his desk, stylus poised, just about to create history by writing the final twenty lines of his epic when—oops—he dies! A little trail of ink meanders off the page. If you are able to accept Mary died a virgin, you can probably presume this “must have” happened too.
The Catholic encyclopedia goes on to state: “Whoever wrote the verses, they are inspired, and must be received as such by every Catholic.” I presume they’re proposing the interpolator was “inspired” by God. Wouldn’t their case be more credible if he had been “inspired” by some eyewitnesses? Consider the tone of the commentary; they are ordering their readers what to believe, rather than offering an informed opinion about a quintessential issue.
The real reason the original author of Mark didn’t write about the resurrection was that there was no resurrection. The resurrection only became a popular belief in some circles in the early to mid second century, maybe when Paul’s letters became more widely circulated. The original Nazarene followers of Jesus may have hoped he was going to return, but never believed he had already done so.
Most Church leaders who know about the interpolated ending insist that since the last twelve verses are “canonically authentic,” there is no need to compromise the faith of their flock by admitting they aren’t bona fide. That is fraudulent.
It is very likely the same interpolator(s) also added lines into Mark in which Jesus predicts he will rise from the dead. The authors of the other Gospels probably included a resurrection because by the time they were writing the myth had been widely circulated, although their accounts may have been added at a later date too.
The four Gospels give different reports of events after the death of Jesus because they didn’t have this part of Mark’s chronicle to copy, so each made up their own. Matthew adds an earthquake and the corpses of holy men walking around Jerusalem. Jesus wasn’t the only Jew to rise from the dead! I wonder whether these walking corpses helped remove the rubble from the earthquake? Did they rejoin their relatives around the table? It might have been disturbing divvying up dinner to your dead half decayed dad!
The Catholic Encyclopedia writes this about the gospels:
“First of all, they commended themselves by their tone of simplicity and truthfulness, which stood in striking contrast with the trivial, absurd, or manifestly legendary character of many of those uncanonical productions.” I think they’re reading their canonical accounts with rose-colored glasses.
Luke and John have the risen Jesus appearing in Jerusalem, far more prestigious than Galilee, which was believed to be a backward badland, yet was where Mark has him appearing. There are numerous other inconsistencies. Christian apologists have tried to reconcile the four very different resurrection stories, with no success.
Jesus did have brothers, two of who, James and Jude, have probably written their own letters in the Bible. If one’s brother had risen from the dead, one would be elated and awestruck, but neither even mentions the fact.
Nor do we find any testimony to the resurrection in the Epistles of Peter or John, as they too were written in the first century, long before the idea of the resurrection had taken root.
“Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me” (Gal. 1:15–16, NJB). He was writing at least twenty years after Jesus died, and gave no description of God’s son. His experience was not a physical reappearance of a dead Jesus, but one that emerged from his own imagination that he thought was inspired by God.
There is no first-century secular writer who mentioned Jesus, let alone a risen Jesus. If a resurrected Jesus had appeared to as many people as claimed in the bible, many contemporary historians would have shouted it from the rooftops, yet there is not a word about it. The resurrection of Jesus is a myth!
Why are millions of people today convinced Jesus rose from the dead? The authors of Christian literature just assume it happened. If a tale is told often enough, it takes on a life of its own. Some Christian commentators dissect the four accounts of the resurrection to try to reconcile them with each other (unsuccessfully), as if that proved they were true.
The truth is the believers have been duped.